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Hartnell College Men's  Football
Week 1: Hartnell VS Mendocino College

HArtnell Panthers VS Mendocino College


Hartnell VS Mendocino

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Hartnell 14
Mendocino 21

Hartnell Panthers fail to take advantage of breaks in 21-14 loss to Mendocino College

By George Watkins • gwatkins@thecalifornian.com. • September 13, 2010

The Mendocino College football team bussed into town Saturday with a roster of 63 players from 13 different states.

They needed just about every last one of them to fend off host Hartnell College, 21-14, at Salinas High Stadium in the season-opener for both teams.

It was an encouraging, yet frustrating outcome for Hartnell, which wasted three golden scoring opportunities, intercepted two passes and recovered a pair of fumbles in front of a large and supportive home crowd.

"We wanted to send a statement today, and even though we lost I think we did send a message," said Hartnell's fourth-year head coach, Matt Collins. "We showed a lot of character in the fourth quarter. We fought through some mistakes and penalties, but still had a shot to tie the game and send it into overtime. We were just a play or two away from making that happen."

Mendocino, the defending Mid-Empire champions, came out as expected with its no-huddle, spread offense. It threw 52 times, completing 32 for 375 yards. The Eagles' 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver, Nick Hodge, burned Hartnell with 11 catches for 140 yards.

Overall, eight different receivers had at least one reception for Mendocino.

"The only thing our guys have been seeing have been our own guys," Collins said. "When you have multiple guys who run 4.5 or better, and when you don't have 6-foot-6 guys to line up against in practice, it's a different feel and look. I'm glad we handled it the best we could."

Hartnell did more than hold its own early. It took the lead. An interception by Keith Lewis started the Panthers on a 45-yard march, capped by a one-yard scoring run by Rickey Rodwell for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

Rodwell rushed for 98 yards and caught four passes for |44 yards.

Hartnell had chances to pad its lead in the first half. But it came up empty twice on an interception inside the Mendocino 20 and again on a missed field goal after having reached the Eagle 2-yard-line.

In addition, the Panthers wasted a fumble recovery by Harmon Manoa that put them at the Mendocino 35-yard-line early in the third quarter of a 7-7 game.

Trailing 14-7, Hartnell tied the score in dramatic fashion on 70-yard pass from Brad Smet to Matt Snead near the end of the third quarter.

Mendocino took the lead back, 21-14, on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Again, Hartnell failed to cash in a big break midway through the fourth quarter when Adrian Blue recovered a fumble at the Eagle 20-yard-line. The threat ended when the Panthers failed on fourth-and-four from the 13.

"We didn't get beat by a better team," Collins said. "We beat ourselves in the first half and it caught us in the end."

Marcos Martinez of North Salinas High had an interception and sack for Hartnell while linebackers John Andrus from Palma and sophomore Kiero Small drew praise from Collins for their four-quarter efforts.

Hartnell visits Modesto Saturday. Next home game is Sept. 25 against Chabot.

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